“That’s not your baby is it?!”
That sentence doesn’t seem too bad until you see the look of shock and disgust on the face of the person who’s saying it. Ever since I had a baby bump, people have stared, that’s fine I had a huge bump and people love a pregnant lady, right?
That’s what I thought too until the looks became constant, and the comments that were usually muttered as I walked past became louder and more offensive.
“Is she pregnant?”
“Jesus did you see your one?”
“The size of her and she looks about 12!”
I am 23 and well used to comments about how young I look, every year in secondary school when we went to get my uniform I’d be asked “is this your first year?” It wasn’t about the comments on how young I looked but the fact that strangers who knew absolutely nothing about me felt that they could judge my ability to parent before I had even had the baby simply based on how young I look.
Since Oscar was born things have only gotten worse, when we brought him on his first flight, (which is stressful enough) I was walking through the aisle with him in my arms to change his nappy, he was only 10 weeks old, and I was stopped numerous times for people to ask how old I was and if he was mine, it was fine at first but people who heard someone ask would chime in with things like “you look way too young to be a mother” and “Jesus! Sure you’re only a baby yourself”. I smiled and nodded my head in agreement because I was trying to blink back the tears of embarrassment stinging my eyes. As a first time mother I am my own biggest critic and for absolute strangers to stop and judge me so publicly completely destroyed my already fractured confidence in myself.
When Adam took him down the aisle to change him the tone couldn’t have been more different, people were asking how old Oscar was and saying how cute he was, the way things should be! I would never ask a stranger their age, its inappropriate and demeaning. I am not public property and I work just as hard to be a good parent as others do. Nearly every time I am out in public with Oscar someone makes a statement about how I am “too young to be a mother”, what happened to it takes a village? How can we support mothers when we are underhandedly undermining them with personal comments?
I have great support at home, Adam and our families are incredible and have never doubted us as parents, but it still stings when someone who doesn’t know us does, simply because of how we look.